Yellow Springs, Ohio
March 12, 1936
M. C. Higgins, the Great
Virginia Hamilton was the first author to win both the National Book Award and the Newbery Medal, in 1975, for the young adult novel M. C. Higgins, the Great.
“Few writers of fiction for young people are as daring, inventive, and challenging to read—or to review—as Virginia Hamilton,” Ethel L. Heins said. “Frankly making demands on her readers, she nevertheless expresses herself in a style essentially simple and concise.”
Hamilton frequently writes of African American life. For example, M. C. Higgins is about a country-born hero who toils hard on his ancestral home, first farmed by a former slave. “M. C. has passed all the land's tests of toughness but must face the outside threat of intruders upon the land—a stripminer's spoil heap that could bury his cabin any time, a music collector who takes his mother's voice on tapes in exchange for empty hints of help, a young stranger who tempts M. C.'s heart to follow her,” Betsy Hearne said. “The pictures and the relationships and the sounds that fit together here deepen in perspective with each reading. There is a sure direction that never slips into contrivance, an opening and closure of another world that one wants to visit—a unique place where six-fingered, red-haired blacks have made a vegetable farming commune stretched over with a robe web where children can climb and play And they are as believable as the strength M. C. finds in himself, his family, his friends, his mountain.”
“All of the characters [in M. C. Higgins] have vitality and credibility as well as a unique quality that makes them unforgettable,” Beryl Robinson added. “Visual images are strong and vivid; and many passages are poetic in their beauty.”